March 26, 2011

San Leandro City Manager Position Posted Without Search Firm

The San Leandro City Council posted the City Manager position on its web site on Thursday, March 24, 2011. The City Council is not using Avery Associates, a search firm that has been used in the past to hire the police chief and the finance director. The firm also provides labor relations consulting services to City staff and was used to hire San Leandro's assistant city manager and human resources director.

No salary is listed on the brochure, but previous city managers have been paid "15% above step five of the salary range of the highest paid City management employee as shown in the City Council adopted Pay Plan" according to their employment agreements. For the current city manager, that means 15% more than $14,688 per month, or $202,694 annually.

Benefits include "8% City-paid contribution for CALPERS," and "Generous vacation and administrative leave; car allowance provided."

The application deadline is April 18, 2011, at 5pm, just 22 days from the date that the position was posted. Interviews of final candidates will be held on May 7, 2011.

Current San Leandro City Manager Steve Hollister submitted his resignation, effective June 30, 2011, just after the City Council met in closed session on December 20, 2010. Hollister was hired as Assistant City Manager in 2004 with the help of a search firm. He became Interim City Manager in September 2008 after the retirement of John Jermanis and was appointed City Manager in December 2008.

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March 22, 2011

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy's 2011 State of the City

The charter of the City of San Leandro states that one of the duties of the Mayor is to "report to the public from time to time on the affairs of the City." On March 21, 2011, Mayor Stephen Cassidy gave his first State of the City Address, fulfilling this Mayoral role. The complete text of the speech follows. The Powerpoint slides are available at http://www.sanleandro.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=8141. The video of the speech is missing the first minute.

Good evening. The duties of Mayor include reporting to the public on the affairs of the City. I am honored to give the State of the City Address for 2011.

President John F. Kennedy stated, “One person can make a difference, and everyone should try.” We are fortunate in San Leandro to have so many people that believe in the value of public service. It’s my privilege to serve as one member of a seven person City Council. Each Councilmember possesses the skills, determination, sound judgment, and experience to take on the challenges facing San Leandro in these tough times. Each Councilmember is not only a leader in our community, but also represents the interests of San Leandro on the board’s of inter- governmental agencies that address a wide range of county and regional issues.

In his State of the Union Address in January, President Obama said that the nation is “poised for progress...the stock market has come roaring back...corporate profits are up...the economy is growing again.” I too believe there are many signs of recovery and progress here in San Leandro, which I will discuss later in my speech. However, we must accurately list our challenges and proactively address them to create a solid foundation for growth and progress in the coming years.

Our first challenge is that far too many San Leandrans are unemployed. The unemployment rate remains over 10%, down only one percent from a year ago. In this category we are no different than nearby cities in the county. Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward, Newark and Union City each have double digit unemployment rates.

Job creation must be one of our top priorities. Our City can play a strong role in helping get San Leandrans back to work by promoting sound and sustainable business development and supporting existing businesses.

This takes me to our second major challenge: the City’s budget deficit. To help put San Leandro on the path to recovery and prosperity, we must first restore our City government to fiscal health.

Sales tax continues to be San Leandro’s largest General Fund revenue source. Retail sales in San Leandro are showing growth, but the growth is slow and we are being very conservative in our projections for next year. Our second largest source of revenue comes from property taxes. While property tax revenues are no longer falling, we also do not expect any increase in property tax revenues next fiscal year.

Despite the stagnant revenue growth, the City Council Finance Committee, City Manager, Assistant City Manager, Finance Director and staff are committed to presenting to the full City Council in May a budget for fiscal year 2011-12 that is truly balanced. The budget will not rely on transfers of one-time only funds to pay for ongoing expenses.

Let me acknowledge that the passage of Measure Z last November by the voters of San Leandro will play a significant role in eliminating the budget deficit next fiscal year. The added revenues from the seven year, 1⁄4 cent sales tax increase, which goes into effect on April 1, have allowed us to save a Fire Department ladder truck and the firefighters that go with it, maintain Police Department staffing, keep two branch libraries open, and avoid deeper service cuts.

While the City will be operating in the black on July 1, 2011, a preliminary five year forecast for the General Fund shows the budget deficit reappearing as soon as July 1, 2012, and increasing every year thereafter. In short, despite the additional revenue from Measure Z, expenditures are projected to grow faster than revenues.

This takes me to our third major challenge: we must address the long-term structural causes for the City’s budget deficit. The margin of error in our City budgeting is razor thin. The Great Recession has taken its toll on City reserves for economic uncertainties. They have dropped by 86% over the past four years and must be rebuilt.

We need to take action now and specifically create ongoing savings in the 2011-12 budget. This will help us balance subsequent budgets without resorting to draconian cuts or further increases in the sales tax. After all, why develop multi-year budget forecasts if we do not use the data in the present to adjust our spending and avoid threats to our solvency in the future?

In particular, to create a sustainable City budget – and by that I mean a budget that reflects the priorities and values of our community, allows us to rebuild our reserves, and keeps us far from any Vallejo-type fiscal meltdown – we must examine the cost of retirement benefits provided to City employees.

Some refer to this as “pension reform.” It’s a term that has no agreed-upon definition. Some use the term when they actually seek to eliminate pensions for public employees. I do not support that. Instead, I prefer the phrase “pension sustainability.” City employees work hard and are working as hard as ever since all departments have lost staff. I respect their right to bargain collectively. They deserve our respect, as well as their pension at the end of their service.

We need to recognize that one of the principle challenges for all local government in the years ahead is how can we provide quality services despite stagnant revenues. Achieving pension sustainability is an important part of meeting this challenge as projected increases in the annual bill the City pays CalPERs for employee pension benefits are a substantial impediment to maintaining our City’s fiscal health. As Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta, has stated, “It is time to begin having the types of mature and honest conversations necessary to deal effectively with the new economic realities we are facing as a nation. We simply cannot keep kicking the can down the road.”

I invite the community to come to a City Council Work Session on Monday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m., where we will have a presentation on the City’s pension and retiree health care liabilities and start discussing solutions to the City’s long-term structural deficit.

I am confident that through dialogue and negotiation, we can preserve vital City programs despite our fiscal challenges. I believe we can do this with the continued help and hard work of all of our City departments, and with the support of our employee groups.
The final challenge I wish to discuss is the Governor’s plan to eliminate all Redevelopment agencies in California. Even though the voters of California overwhelmingly supported Proposition 22 last November to protect the revenues of local government, Governor Brown is looking at taking local tax dollars to reduce the State budget deficit.

The purpose of Redevelopment is to remove blight, bolster business, and create jobs. In San Leandro, Redevelopment has been used responsibly and effectively. Last year, the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes recognized San Leandro for using Housing Set-Aside funds reasonably, excellent accounting and for making substantial progress in development of affordable housing.

One of the greatest successes was the transformation of a rundown hotel on East 14th Street that was a source of criminal activity into a well-managed apartment complex. The City reduced street crime while expanding housing for working families of low and moderate incomes.

Other recent redevelopment projects include: improvements in the Downtown, revitalization of MacArthur Boulevard, contributing to the cost of building the gymnasium at the Fred T. Korematsu campus at San Leandro High School,
helping construct the new Senior Community Center, supporting the LINKS shuttle service from BART to our industrial areas which reduces congestion and greenhouse emissions, and bringing the Creekside Plaza Class-A office complex and 1,000 quality jobs to town.

I applaud Governor Brown for his efforts to implement long-term fiscal reform for the State, and I mean no disrespect to Senator Corbett or Assemblymember Hayashi. But any short-term benefit to the state budget from eliminating Redevelopment Agencies will be outweighed by the long term negative impact on our cities and the state economy.
Regardless of what occurs in Sacramento, we are committed in San Leandro to making our city a safe, vibrant community that is the best place in the Bay Area to raise a family or run a business.

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First, I am pleased to report that crime fell by 8% last year, and has dropped by nearly one quarter since 2006. The credit goes to the outstanding work by the San Leandro Police Department, and also to the growing involvement of community groups, including:
Neighborhood Watch, Citizens for Safer San Leandro, the Downtown Association Crime Free Business Program, the Crime Free Multi Housing Program, and the Map Your Neighborhood Program

They are all important partners with our Police Department in keeping San Leandro safe. We recognize, however, that residential burglaries remain a concern and the number increased last year. We are determined to make progress in this area in 2011.

We are also pleased to have received funds from the federal COPS program for the next three years. This will allow us to retain two police officers and add three more. Besides allowing us to avoid deeper cuts to our Police patrol staff, the Department has been able to sustain its crime prevention efforts, which are having great results.

Also of note, 9-1-1 cell phone calls now go to our dispatch center here in San Leandro rather than to the Highway Patrol. As a result, the department has seen a 66% increase in the number of 9-1-1 calls the dispatch center is receiving. This means faster response to emergencies in San Leandro, but at the same time, it is adding to the workload of our already strained staff.

I’ll be talking about new businesses coming into town in just a moment, but this is a good time for me to mention that Paramedics Plus is locating its headquarters in San Leandro. This is going to be a real asset to San Leandro. It keeps 375 jobs in town that might have otherwise been lost and is going to save the City about $81,000 per year in emergency response costs.

When we think of Fire Department response, we think of big red trucks, ambulances, maybe even a hazardous materials truck. But this past summer the Fire Department dedicated a new boat for water rescues, very appropriate since we have about 7 miles of waterfront along the San Francisco Bay. Alameda County Fire acquired the boat through a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and it is housed at Station 11 on Catalina Street. Their crews are fully trained and ready to respond to any level of water emergency.

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Something that is equally important to our community is our duty to be responsible stewards of the environment and our natural resources. Many businesses in town are taking steps to reduce dependence on non-renewable energy, reuse products and recycle whenever possible. The City’s Industrial Competitiveness Program provides assistance to businesses for increasing the energy efficiency of their facility and operations.

Seven businesses are enrolled in a “Sustainability Circle” run by True Market Solutions and sponsored by the City. Those businesses are Alameda County Industries, Alco Iron and Metals, Ghirardelli Chocolate, Marina Mechanical, Mi Rancho, OSIsoft and Scandic Springs.

The Sustainability Circle brings together companies from a diverse range of industries to share resources and tips on how to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and operations.

These companies know that running an energy efficient business is good for the environment and the bottom line.

For instance, Scandic Springs on Montague Avenue installed a new solar roof. Their photovoltaic system, believed to be the largest in San Leandro, provides approximately 85% of Scandic’s total electrical needs.

Mi Rancho, a family-owned tortilla manufacturer on Hester Street, was recently featured in an article in the New York Times as a model of sustainable business practices. With new energy- efficient lighting, plus waste-reduction measures underway, the company expects to save $100,000 a year in energy costs. The improvements will pay for themselves within the first year.

Other San Leandro businesses are equally committed to energy efficiency and sustainability. The Coca Cola Bottling Plant received a 2010 Business Efficiency Award from StopWaste.Org for recycling, composting and preventing waste with reusable supplies.

As a side note, Coca-Cola was one of the manufacturers San Leandro students visited recently in a joint program with the City and the Chamber of Commerce called “Careers in Industrial Technology.” This program is designed to expose students to the many possible careers in manufacturing.

A.G. Ferrari, whose food and wine distribution headquarters are on Catalina Street, also won a StopWaste.Org award for composting 200 tons of waste per year, and better use of reusable products and environmentally preferred packaging. The company slashed its garbage costs by 77%.

Halus Power Systems on Grant Avenue is a new innovator in clean technology. They are taking used wind turbines, refurbishing them and selling them to small users like mobile home parks and farmers, reducing the need for electric power from the grid.

Waste Management’s new projects coming on line at the Davis Street Transfer Station include the collection of landfill methane gas which will be converted into liquid natural gas. They expect to generate up to 4,000 mega-watts of power. This will allow them to removed the transfer station from the grid and sell back unused power. In addition, a new indoor composting facility at the station will handle 48,000 tons of compostable waste per year on site, eliminating 8-10 truck trips out of the facility and off of our city streets.
As part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act, the City obtained a $732,000 Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant. The funds will be used to implement energy efficiency programs, including:
Building Performance Audits and Do-It-Yourself classes for residents, which are part of our City energy efficiency program, and upgrading of many street lights on East 14th Street and in our neighborhoods.

These efforts are in support of the city reaching its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 25% below 2005 levels by 2020.

For the third year in a row, our Water Pollution Control Plant received a California Water Environment Association award for having the best wastewater collection record for a plant of its size in the Bay Area. The association’s judges were particularly impressed by the Plant’s maintenance program, its emergency response capabilities and its safety program.

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Another one of my chief goals as Mayor is to support our business community and bring new businesses and jobs into San Leandro. Our Office of Business Development has the same mission.

We are fortunate to have two of the largest businesses in the East Bay here in San Leandro – Tri-Net and OSIsoft – and I’m happy to report that both businesses are expanding. Tri-Net, a nationwide company that specializes in managing benefits, payroll and human resources, has doubled in size in the past three years.

OSIsoft is a worldwide leader in real-time data infrastructure solutions. It recently received an infusion of $135 million in venture capital funds and is expanding its headquarters here in San Leandro.

Odwalla has come to town. This popular producer of juices and other healthy snacks moved into the Alvarado Business Center in February, bringing 50 jobs.

The Annex, a company that distributes coffee and other products from around the world, is now occupying nearly 221,000 square feet of warehouse space, one of the largest coffee warehouse on the West Coast. They chose San Leandro because of our location on the Highway 880 corridor and our proximity to the Oakland International Airport.

The new Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep California Superstore moved into 1444 Marina Boulevard this past fall. It is good to see this property occupied once again by an auto dealership, and this is evidence that Marina Boulevard Automall has survived the economic downturn and is well positioned to capitalize on an economic recovery.

The District Council 16 International Union for Painters and Allied Trades will be moving into a portion of the old Kellogg’s plant on Williams Street for its apprentice training program. They are bringing 14 jobs to the center, with more anticipated as the economy and enrollment improve. Nearly 200 students will graduate from their program each year.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 is moving from Alvarado Street to Catalina Street and building a 46,000 square foot, state-of- the-art facility for its training programs. They employ 30-40 people and train upwards of 500 apprentice and journey level electricians each year.

Construction of the Kaiser Hospital and Medical Center is well underway. This is the largest development project in San Leandro’s history. There are over 150 people working on the site right now, and by December there will be well over 400 jobs there. Once the hospital and medical center are finished, there will be over 2,500 full time, permanent, quality jobs in this facility, and it will be the largest employer in San Leandro. Kaiser reports this will be one of the most technologically advanced health care facilities in California.

My hope is that we keep San Leandro Hospital open and serving the community, and combined with the new Kaiser facility, San Leandro will become a hub of high quality medical care in the East Bay.

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Let me focus on some of the projects the City has underway.

The Estudillo Parking Garage is progressing well. Our appreciation goes to the neighbors and businesses around the project that are putting up with the noise, construction activity and parking challenges. The project is on schedule and on budget. Completion is expected summer 2012. It will add 138 parking spaces in the downtown, which is an important aspect of our business development and retention efforts. Further, the building will be seismically safe – something that the old garage was lacking.

We are confident that our new Branding and Marketing Strategy team will be a driver in retaining current business, and attracting new ones. 23 local business leaders are offering their talent and expertise to help develop a brand and create a marketing strategy for San Leandro.

Progress continues on building a vision for our Shoreline and Marina. The members of the Shoreline Development Citizens Advisory Committee continue to work with Cal-Coast, the master developer of the shoreline, to create a financially sustainable project that offers a wide range of amenities.

With respect to the old Albertsons site downtown, Innisfree Ventures holds the exclusive right to develop this site. We are looking forward to a City Council Work Session on April 25th when we will see conceptual designs for retail development of the site.

Progress is being made concerning the development of the Davis/Hays/ East 14th Street block. Innisfree Ventures is also developing this project in coordination with the City.

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My first week in office, I had the pleasure of speaking to a Government class at San Leandro High about public service and legacy of John F. Kennedy as part of a program by the U.S. Mayor’s Conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s inaugural address.

I got hit with some pretty tough questions by those students. That demonstrated to me that the youth of San Leandro aren’t complacent about the community they live in. They are concerned and inquisitive. That encourages me. It says that the future of San Leandro is promising. We need to continue to invest in our students because they are our leaders and innovators of tomorrow and it’s through strong schools that we build strong cities.

We continue to partner with our schools to find ways we can bring more opportunities to students and the community – such as creating joint use facilities in the form of the new gyms at Fred T. Korematsu Campus and Washington Manor Middle School.

With new projects on the horizon for San Leandro schools thanks to Measure M, we will study other ways we can collaborate. Measure M will provide funds to renovate Burrell Field, the athletic fields at John Muir Middle School, and the swimming pools at San Leandro High.
And I must make mention of the two signature projects under the previous school district bond, Measure B. These are the Fred T. Korematsu Campus, which opened last August, and the Arts Education Center.

As I mentioned earlier, the City was able to assist in the construction of the gym at the Korematsu campus with Redevelopment funds. Ninth grade students at San Leandro High School now attend 29 new classrooms equipped with SMART board technology, a beautiful library, science labs, a courtyard and mini amphitheater, and a great new gymnasium. The overcrowding of San Leandro High School is no longer an issue for our students and district.
The Arts Education Center will open in April, just in time for the high school Spring musical. In addition to a 550-seat theater, the center includes a sound stage, recording studio, computer labs and classrooms. Students in the school’s Multi-Media Academy, which will be housed in the center, will have the latest technology and equipment.

A sneak preview of the theater will occur on April 20 as a benefit for the San Leandro Education Foundation and their Friends of the Theater program. I encourage all to attend.

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When I spoke to that High School class, it gave me the opportunity to re-read President John F. Kennedy’s moving inaugural address. The one phrase we all remember is “...ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”

In my first Coffee with the Mayor session in January, one of our neighbors recommended that we make better use of volunteer services in the City; some of that “what you can do for your country” energy. I want to find more ways we can make use of the talents and skills we have in our community.

However, everyone should know that scores of San Leandrans are already providing valuable service to our City.

Over 450 teens volunteered in calendar year 2010, for a total of 10,950 hours of work. They help both our Library and Recreation and Human Services Departments with a multitude of chores and special events. 303 adults volunteered for us last year, providing more than 23,000 hours of labor. They help at our Library and serve as tutors for Project Literacy. They also provide valuable clerical support in almost every City department.
In the Police Department, our Retired Senior Volunteer Program members help with an incredible number of assignments – all tasks that would require an officer’s or other uniformed personnel’s time that is better spent on more important duties.

The KaBOOM! Toyon Park renovations were an outstanding partnership. It was sponsored by the Bio-tech company AMGEN, organized by our Recreation and Human Services Department, designed in collaboration with community members, and built with sweat-equity contributed by parents, kids, teens, elected officials, City employees, San Leandro Rotary, and others. It was a great day and we now have a great children’s playground at the park.

And it should be noted that these totals do not include the time and support of our Police Explorers. This is a group of 16 dedicated, energetic teens, many of whom who have set their sights on a career in law enforcement, helping with a variety of events and programs. But, even more important, the Police Department has been able to turn around the lives of a number of teens who may have been headed down a risky path and changed their lives for the better. You can’t put a price on that.

And, of course, we can’t forget the dedication of our residents who serve on City Boards and Commissions who help the Council and City administer City programs and address community needs. On behalf of the City Council and staff, I thank our Board Members and Commissioners for all that you do.

All of our volunteers deserve a round of applause.

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I am saving the best for last – the announcement that our Senior Community Center will officially open for business on Monday, April 4. We are having a grand celebration on Saturday, April 2, and welcome all of you to attend.

We have been able to put a plan in place to bring our senior programs and services to the center of town and found the financial resources to build it, thanks in great part to the partnership for acquisition of the property with San Leandro Hospital and the Eden Township Healthcare District.

The Senior Center also serves as the City’s Emergency Operations Center or EOC in the event of a disaster. The EOC at the Senior Center is fully equipped for our response to the community in times of emergencies. This is an example of foresight by our previous Councils and smart planning by local government – creating a new building to serve a dual purpose.

And, we have a great announcement to make. We just received notice from the United States Green Building Council that the Senior Community Center has received Gold LEED status. In the environmental world, that is an outstanding accomplishment, and recognition of the high level of environmental stewardship we have incorporated into the Center.

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I have been the Mayor of San Leandro for 2 1⁄2 months now. I am no longer turning my head to see who is behind me when someone says to me “Hello Mayor.”

I continue to be impressed and inspired by how hard our City employees are working. They all give 110% effort to this community. They take pride in the jobs they perform and genuinely care about our city. I believe I can speak for the whole City Council when I say “Thank you” to our City employees for a job well done. And I thank the City staff that worked with me in preparing my State of the City speech.

I also thank the City Council for your continued dedication and fortitude in addressing the pressing issues facing our community.

Finally, I thank the People of San Leandro for allowing me to serve as your Mayor. It is a privilege and honor to do so.

As I said at the outset, we have challenges ahead of us, but we also have many successes to build upon. I firmly believe San Leandro is on the move and laying the foundation for strong growth and prosperity in the years ahead. If we combine fiscal common sense with innovations in government and initiatives to spur business development, San Leandro will be at the forefront of cities in the Bay Area in growth as our state and national economy recovers.

Thank you.

Oh, and Happy Birthday San Leandro. It was 139 years ago today that the City incorporated – March 21, 1872.

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Happy Alice Sarafian Day!

San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy proclaimed March 22, 2011, as Alice Sarafian Day at the San Leandro City Council meeting on March 21, 2011.

Sarafian was among those receiving commendations for their service on San Leandro's boards and commissions. Sarafian was appointed to the Human Services Commission in 1984 and has served as the District 1 member and the At-Large member. From 1985 to 1987, Sarafian was the President of the San Leandro League of Women Voters. In 1977, she was Board President of Girls' Inc.

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March 20, 2011

Crime Prevention Tips from San Leandro Police Officer Tim Degrano

At the March 16, 2011, meeting of the Broadmoor Neighborhood Association, San Leandro Police Officer Tim Degrano shared some crime prevention tips with the audience.

Degrano emphasized that "We require community assistance because we cannot be everywhere 24 7....We love the nosy neighbor....We love Mrs. Kravitz. [the nosy neighbor in the television series Bewitched who was known for peeking through her curtains at her neighbors]"

"I will tell you the honest truth is we don't catch the smart ones…right away," said Degrano, but if residents are there to help the police, then they can be much more effective at catching the criminals.

He noted that very few people have taken advantage of CPTED, which stands for crime prevention through environmental design. CPTED consists of designing or changing the exterior of your house or building to discourage crime through proper lighting,

Degrano and his partner Kerri Kovach "will go out to your home or business on request….We'll let you know if your shrubs are covering that porch where someone can hide behind them."

According to Degrano, they know from talking to suspects that some of the reasons they target homes is because they don't have an alarm system [because there is no sticker] or the porch light has been on for two straight days.

Degrano notes that an alarm system may not prevent a burglary, but it will certainly give the police a better chance to catch the burglars in the act.

When asked about crime and apartments, Degrano said that they have a crime-free program for multi-housing communities. This program has a lease addendum that tenants sign that allows the owner to evict tenants that commit a crime on or off the property, that cause a disturbance, of if their guest causes a disturbance. Degrano said it is a great program that it has been challenged at the US Supreme Court and been upheld.

On home alarm systems, Degrano stated that you get two false alarms a year and after that, there is a $75 fine. Degrano was correct on the two false alarms, but according to the the San Leandro Municipal Code, you get two false alarms within a 90-day period.

For more information about crime prevention, see the San Leandro Police Crime Prevention page at http://www.sanleandro.org/depts/pd/prevention/default.asp

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San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli at Homeowner Meeting

On March 16, 2011, San Leandro Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli addressed the general meeting of the Broadmoor Neigborhood Association. Spagnoli has been on the job for about two and a half months after replacing Ian Willis, who retired.

Spagnoli told the audience, "Last year crime dropped across the whole city by 8% which was a very good thing. In fact, last year in 2010 our crime stats were at an all-time low." In contrast, Spagnoli noted, "Burglaries last year for 2010 were up by about 15%, so we are seeing an increase not only in our city but statewide in thefts, larcenies, burglaries, residential and auto burglaries as well."

In her remarks, she noted that "You have a full service police department. We will respond to any call." This is in contrast to the City of Oakland where residents are asked to complete a report online for certain crimes.

Spagnoli was proud that San Leandro still had a crime prevention unit with two officers assigned to it, since that is typically one area that gets cut when there are budget cuts.

On a typical day, San Leandro Police receive about 211 calls and arrest 10 to 12 people.

According to Spagnoli, the San Leandro Police implement two things last year that should help in responding to crime. First, e911 was implemented, which means that 911 calls from your cell phone will automatically be routed directly to the local communication center. However, calls made while on the freeway will be routed to the California Highway Patrol, so Spagnoli recommended getting off the freeway before calling 911 because "we'll probably answer the phone a little bit quicker." Spagnoli said, "We were one of the last police departments to go online in the state with this."

The second thing that was implemented last year was a "new system for monitoring reports and report writing" - "customized reports to help us predict crime and where crime is going to occur in the future." This new component isn't fully functional right now but she plans to roll out more information to the community in the future. Spagnoli also recommended crimereports.com for finding information on crime in your local area.

On LicenseLook, a tool from local resident Wayne Gregori, Spagnoli said that it is a good way to document which license plates are in your area, but call us if something doesn't look right or feel right, because it probably isn't right.

Spagnoli went on to answer questions from the audience.

The first question was "What percent of the crime rate is drug-related and what is being done to combat the sales of drugs in the community?"

Spagnoli responded that at least 60% of crime was drug-related and went on to criticize the current parole system in which some offenders are released into communities with no supervision or conditions. According to Spagnoli, the rate of recidivism for people that have been released back into the community is more than 90%.

The second question was, "Welcome to San Leandro. Will you stay more than two years?"

Spagoli said, "My commitment to the community is to stay here, make a commitment and make a difference in the community and also been involved and engaged in the community." Spagnoli said that she wouldn't be eligible for retirement for "many, many years." She said that she wanted to make an impact on the community and that it would be hard to make an impact when you're here for only a few years. She acknowledged that she didn't really answer the question, but said she would have an attachment to this community for many years "as long as they still want me."

When asked, "Why did you want to be a police chief in San Leandro?" Spagnoli responded that San Leandro is a "gem in the Bay Area" that offers many challenges that she can make a difference in, San Leandro has a full-service police department, and San Leandro is larger than her former city [Benicia]. Her experience in community engagement, using technology and reducing crime were the reasons why she thinks she was selected.

Spagnoli is San Leandro's 10th police chief and its first female police chief. She previously served as the police chief for Benicia and took over from former police chief Ian Willis in January 2011.

Press releases from the San Leandro Police Department can be found on Facebook and you can subscribe to the RSS feed without a Facebook account. Maps showing the general location of recent crimes can be found at Crime Reports. You can sign up to receive free notifications about emergencies, including crimes, at Nixle and CodeRed.

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March 16, 2011

San Leandro Sales Tax to Increase on April 1

As part of the Measure Z quarter-cent sales tax increase approved by San Leandro voters in November 2010, sales tax will increase from 9.75% to 10%, according to a press release from the California State Board of Equalization on March 16, 2011.

Opponents of the sales tax argued that San Leandro would have the highest sales tax in northern California if Measure Z passed, but sales tax increases in Union City and El Cerrito to 10.25% give those cities that distinction.

Revenue from the sales tax increase is not likely to have a big effect on the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, but is estimated to generate $3 to $4 million in revenue for the next fiscal year. Some of that additional revenue will be offset by an increase of $852,000 increase in the City's CalPERS contribution next year and an increase of $490,000 in employee costs from new employee contracts that were approved in December 2010.

According to the press release:

Retailers generally need to apply the new sales tax rates if they:

  • Operate within the taxing area (the city with the new tax rate) and have merchandise sold and delivered within the area.

  • Operate outside of the taxing area but are engaged in business within the area and sell merchandise for use in the area.

  • Are engaged in business in the area. Retailers are considered to be engaged in business in the area if they either:
    • Have a business location in the tax area. o Deliver into the tax area using their vehicles.

    • Have an agent or representative in the area to make sales, deliveries, installations, or take orders.

  • Sell autos, boats, or aircraft to customers that register them within the taxing area.

  • Collect tax on lease payments from property used in the taxing area.

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City of San Leandro Files Petition for Re-Hearing in Faith Fellowhip Case

On March 15, 2011, the City of San Leandro filed a petition for a re-hearing in the Faith Fellowship (Foursquare) case.

The appeals court ruled against the City of San Leandro on February 15, 2011, allowing the church to pursue its lawsuit against the City.

More details later today. Click here to read the City's petition.

Posted by mike at 10:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2011

270 San Leandro Street Lights to Get Energy Efficient Upgrade

BetaLED Street LightSan Leandro's street lights will become more energy efficient under a new contract that will replace 270 high pressure sodium (HPS) lights with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Similar lights are in place on the Hayward-San Mateo Bridge.

The contract, awarded to Omega Pacific Electrical Supply, is worth $83,320. Omega will be installing LED streetlights manufactured by BetaLED, a division of Wisconsin-based Ruud Lighting. Funding for the project comes from an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant that is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and from PG&E rebates for purchasing qualified LED fixtures.

A similar program to replace traffic signal lights with energy-efficient LEDs was done in the early 2000s, according to San Leandro Public Works Director Mike Bakaldin. All green and red traffic signals and most of the yellows are now LEDs. Bakaldin noted that the red LEDs have been very reliable, but the green LEDs had to replaced within a few years.

The City of San Leandro has more than 5,000 street lights, so these conversions include about 5% of existing street lights. However, the energy savings is estimated at 20 to 50% of an HPS light and LEDs are expected to last much longer than HPS lights, reducing maintenance costs. Other advantages include no lead or mercury that is in many HPS light fixtures, improved lighting from the higher quality of the light emitted, and no need to warm up before they are fully lit.

Update: The lights will be installed in the Bonaire area where a pilot project was started in 2010.

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March 8, 2011

New Census Data Puts San Leandro's 2010 Population at 84,950

Data from the 2010 census indicates that San Leandro's population was 84,950 as of April 2010, an increase of 5,498 or 6.9% from 2000. Alameda County's population increased 4.6% over the last 10 years, while Piedmont and Oakland had slight decreases. Dublin and Emeryville increased by 53.6% and 46.5% respectively.

The population breakdown by race/ethnicity is 29.3% Asian, 27.4% Hispanic or Latino, 27.1% white (non-Hispanic), 11.8% African American, 3.2% two or more races, 0.7% Asian Pacific and Hawaiian, 0.3% American Indian and Alaska Native, and 0.2% other.

Total housing units in San Leandro increased from 31,334 in 2000 to 32,419 in 2010, an increase of 3.5%. Vacant housing units increased 146% from 692 to 1,702. In Alameda County, housing units increased by 7.8% while vacant units increased by 122.5%.

This data was compiled by California's State Data Center, part of the Department of Finance, from U.S. Census reports and data.

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March 7, 2011

San Leandro City Council Creates a Branding and Marketing Working Group

As part of its effort to market itself "as a great place to do business," the San Leandro City Council has created a Branding and Marketing Working Group.

At tonight's meeting the City Council will discuss approval of the members of the group and adding an additional member from each of the African American, Latino, and Asian Business Councils of the San Leandro Chamber.

The working group will work with The Placemaking Group, a marketing communications agency from Oakland. The consulting agreement is not-to-exceed $10,000. According to the staff report, The Placemaking Group will "facilitate a business working group gather surveys of consumers businesses brokers and visitors and to create a Branding and Marketing Strategy."

The proposed members are:

  • City staff - Luke Sims, Cynthia Battenberg, Jeff Kay, and Caryn Wegerbauer
  • San Leandro Chamber - Hank Sullivan, John Johnson, Gaye Quinn, John Gooding, and Gordon Galvan
  • Mayor Cassidy- Jenny Linton and Fred Reicker
  • Vice Mayor Reed - Dan Dillman and Charles Gilcrest
  • Pauline Cutter - Larry Allphin and Tim Holmes
  • Michael Gregory - Robin Beebe and Helen Lee Takaki
  • Jim Prola - Audrey Velasquez and Jeff Starkovich
  • Diana Souza - Debra Lambert and Paul Woycheshin
  • Joyce Starosciak - Susan and Cartier Lee

Sims is the Community Development Director for the City of San Leandro, Battenberg is the Business Development Manager, and Kay is a Business Development Analyst. Wegenbauer is a part-time employee for the City Business Development department, is the Secretary for the San Leandro Downtown Association and has worked with Main Street Property Services, which the City contracted with in March 2009 for Implementation of a 2009-10 Marketing Plan.

Sullivan is the 2011 Chairman of the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce and is President of the business consulting firm Strategic Solutions. Quinn is Chair-Elect of the Chamber, Vice Chair of San Leandro by Design, and is with Quorum Real Estate Group. Gooding is Vice Chair of Government Affairs for the Chamber, runs Quadric Group and provides services to Madison Marquette, the owner of Bayfair Center. Galvan was a member of the San Leandro City Council from 1994 until 2001, provides services to Alameda County Industries, and is on the Board of the San Leandro Chamber.

Linton is Executive Vice President at OSIsoft and is on the Board of the San Leandro Chamber. Reicker served on the Library-Historical Commission from 2003 to 2011 and was a marketing executive at Clorox.

Dillman is the owner of the Bal Theatre, which recently succeeded in convincing the city to allow live performances that had been prohibited under its conditional use permit. Gilcrest was on the Board of Zoning Adjustments from 2007 to 2011 and ran for City Council in 2008.

Allphin is the events chair for the San Leandro Downtown Association and owner of Allphin Jewelers. Holmes is the owner of Zocalo Coffeehouse and was the campaign manager for Mayor Cassidy. Holmes also worked as Manager of Mac OS Evangelism for eight years.

Beebe is the owner of Divine Home Care and is on the Board of the San Leandro Chamber.

Velasquez works for the San Leandro Marina Inn and is the Vice President of the San Leandro Downtown Association. Starkovich is a Managing Partner at Cassidy Turley BT Commercial in Oakland.

Lambert is a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente, which is constructing a new hospital at the former Lucky distribution site adjacent to Interstate 880.

The City Council meets tonight, March 7, 2011, at 7pm at 835 E. 14th Street in San Leandro.

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